Atonement

(NOTE: I again announce the publication in Israel of my new book, entitled “Tzadka Mimeni: The Jewish Ethic of Personal Responsibility.” It is written in English, available now in Israel and should arrive in the United States in a little over a month. Then, it will be available at fine Jewish bookstores. Even now, it can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com or Bn.com. Enjoy!)

My new book (have you heard??) is entitled “Tzadka Mimeni” to recall a specific incident in the Bible that had enormous and historic ramifications. It was the phrase Yehuda (son of Yaakov) used to admit his complicity in the affair with Tamar, who refused to publicly identify him as the father of her child but subtly indicated so to Yehuda. Rather than deny, obfuscate, change the topic or blame someone else, Yehuda admitted his role: “Tzadka Mimeni.” She is more righteous than I am. She is right. I am wrong. It is my fault.

That confession not only saved Tamar’s life and was an act of moral courage; it also qualified Yehuda, in the opinion of our Sages, to become the progenitor of the royal house of Israel. It was the response of a real leader, who knows how to take responsibility for misdeeds and failures and not pass the buck to others.

Those days are long gone, at least here in the United States.

Barack Obama’s inability to take responsibility for anything has become a running joke, albeit one without humor and incapable of inducing laughter. These cannot even be considered gaffes, as they are second (or first?) nature to him. The most recent example is almost run-of-the-mill. Asked whether he was surprised by the rise of ISIL, Obama shifted responsibility for being surprised to the equally hapless James Clapper, even if the intelligence services had, indeed, warned of ISIL’s rise more than a half-year ago. “It wasn’t me! It was him! He didn’t tell me!

It is actually worse than that. I receive a daily briefing on the military situation in Iraq and environs (you can too!) from the Institute for the Study of War, complete with maps and analysis. Note this:

       “ISW’s Jessica Lewis assessed in July 2013 that the group’s leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi literally aimed to declare an Islamic State: “When al Qaeda in Iraq last enjoyed this operational advantage, it chose to announce the birth of the Islamic State of Iraq and to appoint emirs and Shura councils in every province. This historical parallel places Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s recent announcements of his envisioned Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the literal context of a deliberate campaign to establish governance over areas in Iraq and Syria.”

Check the date: July 2013. That was 15 months ago, at least six months before ISIL became better known in America, and 12 months before they started beheading American journalists.

In August 2013 (that’s over a year ago), ISW reported on ISIL’s territorial gains in Iraq and in Syria, a period that by pure chance coincided with the President’s annual Martha’s Vineyard location. What does ISW know that Obama doesn’t? Perhaps their analysts pay more attention to the intelligence coming their way than the President does to his. Perhaps the President should subscribe to ISW’s daily reports, although he would still have to read them.

But that is only the latest example. The hallmark of this administration has been a headlong flight from personal responsibility – on Putin’s military advances, the botched rollout of Obamacare, the corruption and dirty-dealing at the IRS, the Benghazi attack, the failures at the Veterans Administration, etc., and etc. to the etc. Events seem to swirl around this President and he is often, apparently, the last to know what is happening on his watch and the least able to influence the course of events. He will look dutifully somber, and promise justice, getting to the bottom, etc., but without much passion, engagement, or real acceptance of responsibility. That the White House admitted this week that they learned at the same time the press did that an armed felon rode in an elevator with the President and an unsuspecting Secret Service along for the ride is par for the course (pardon the golf reference). All agencies take their lead from the chief; it stands to reason that the Secret Service is as detached as the man they are sworn to protect.

Indeed, judging by customary reactions from this White House, George W. Bush is more responsible for the events of the last six years than Barack Obama.

This diffidence has had the effect of reducing Obama and the United States on the world scene. Part of this is intentional: Obama believes the dispatch of the American military across the world to be an “evil,” which he will not do absent an attack on the homeland, and perhaps not even then. He does not perceive the US military as a positive, virtuous force (witness the “coffee salute”) but rather as a symptom of the “bad America” that he was elected to transform. And part of this is simply the natural effect of the way Obama is perceived by other world leaders, especially American allies who are counting the days and holding their collective breaths until January 20, 2017.

This week, and once again, Obama was rebuked in private by PM Netanyahu, admonished to “study the facts and details” before reflexively criticizing Israel’s municipal building plans. Foreign leaders have the advantage of piercing the cordon sanitaire that Valerie Jarrett has erected around Obama to shield him from criticism. In private, they tell him exactly how they feel, even if in public, they pay him deference, out of respect to his office and especially to the historic role of the US in world affairs which will outlive even Obama’s efforts to strangle it. Obama, after six years, is unaccustomed to hearing criticism or even dissenting voices and is visibly uncomfortable with it. But it exists.

Netanyahu, who is a serious man and proved it again this week (he also remains Israel’s most effective spokesman when he is overseas), knows that Obama will do nothing about Iran’s nuclear program. The American president lacks both the will and a plan, and, like with ISIS, will offer desultory demonstrations of resolve and might, however ineffectual they are. (In the case of ISIS, an air show that will change nothing on the ground, and in the case of Iran, an empty agreement that will also change nothing.) Personally, I found Obama’s repeated references to the PM as “Bibi” to be disparaging attempts to belittle him; Netanyahu, presumably, had the grace not to refer to Obama as “Barry.” (But did Israel’s PM have to traipse from one treif restaurant to the next in NYC, of all places, and during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, of all times? There was a time when Israeli leaders had a little more Jewish pride, or at least, self-awareness.)

Incidentally, as noted here not long ago, Obama takes liberties with his conduct of “war” that he doesn’t allow Israel – e.g., bombing from the air (which he insisted that Israel not do in Gaza; for the most part, they ignored him). It is also fascinating how there seem to be no casualties from any US bombing run – neither terrorist nor civilian. Those really are smart bombs.

Leadership requires, first and foremost, the capacity to accept responsibility in a serious and sincere way. So does atonement. At the very heart of Yom Kippur is the recognition, stated again and again, that “I am responsible” for my sins. No one else is responsible. I cannot pound the chest of the person standing next to me, as tempting as that sounds. I cannot shift blame to others for my failures. I cannot hang my mistakes on the fellow who preceded me in my seat in shul.

If anything, the contrast between the modern world and G-d’s expectations for us is so stunning that it should force us to take a deeper, more introspective look at our deeds and misdeeds, our ambitions and objectives in life. Fortunately, Yom Kippur provides us the opportunity to do that.

Politics aside (this too shall pass), our inner world is the real world in which our moral perfection is sought and measured, and where it has true substance and makes an eternal difference. May we take such messages to heart, merit      G-d’s grace and forgiveness, and be inscribed for a year of life, good health, prosperity and peace.

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43 responses to “Atonement

  1. “The French took control of Syria after the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I, and they gave Jews representation in local and regional councils despite opposition from Arab nationalists and Muslim fundamentalists.”

    SOURCE: The Jews of Syria a Lost Civilization by Aaron Feigenbaum, 2014 October 5
    http://www.aish.com/jw/s/The-Jews-of-Syria-A-Lost-Civilization.html

    PERSONAL COMMENT: Read the paragraph shown above very carefully.
    Arab nationalists and Muslim fundamentalists are not only opposed to the idea of a Jewish state [Israel]; even Jews having minority representation in local and regional councils is too much for Arabs and Muslims to tolerate.

  2. Stanley Fischman

    Congratulations on another excellent (and withering) analysis.
    Why is the failure to accept responsibility so scandalously endemic to this administration?
    For better or worse, politicians or public figures striving for higher office have a traceable record of achievement. There is a public awareness of how they handle setbacks and perform in difficult circumstances. We elected a president who entered the White House with a zero record of tangible performance in his prior positions of authority. He was, and remains thoroughly unprepared for his job. Surrounded by sycophants and novices he knows only what he is told and no one is capable of telling him the truth. With his breath-taking arrogance and ignorance of the facts, we are not likely to see any appreciable change.

    • So True. At this rate we will never find the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq

      • That’s because they were moved to Syria. And Assad still has them. Make sense?
        -RSP

      • Phillip Slepian

        The Rabbi does indeed make sense, AC. Absence of proof is not proof of absence. Hussein had used the very weapons the anti-Bush crowd now claims Hussein never had, and he used them on his own citizens. And why are we to assume that the safekeeping of military hardware in Syria that clearly took place during the first Gulf War was not repeated in the second?

  3. Absence of proof is not in itself proof of absence. Absence of evidence and proof, well that’s proof of absence. Hussein at one point did have chemical weapons, but at the time of the invasion was not a threat to anyone.

    • Except to himself and the rest of civilization. You seem to forget that he was the one who was boasting about his chemical weapons and other WMDs and how he would use them against Israel and the US.
      He was the source of some intelligence, thinking – as he later said – that the US would never attack.
      How ironic.
      -RSP

  4. He boasted about a lot of things ( as many dictators do) A large part of this was to scare other Countries and his own people to keep them in line. At the time we invaded his country posed no credible threat to anyone. He wasn’t even in control of the whole Country. Anyway, this whole discussion about WMD’s is a little bit irrelevant now. I have plenty of issues with your criticisms of Obama. I will write more later, thank you

  5. Phillip Slepian

    And, as if on cue to reply to AC and Andy above, the New York Times announces, that, “oh, yeah, there were indeed WMDs in Iraq after all. Sorry about all those headlines to the contrary for the past 13 years.” I think this exchange just reached its conclusion. http://spectator.org/articles/60689/new-york-times-rediscovers-weapons-mass-destruction-iraq

    • I do not believe that is correct. The Weapons found were old chemical ones from the Iran- Iraq War. The Bush administration was aware these weapons were discovered, but knew not to go public bc it was not relevant.

      • Phillip Slepian

        So, basically, there is nothing that can convince AC that the evil President Bush genuinely believed that Saddam Hussein, who had violated the terms of his own surrender from the first Gulf War, posed a threat to our allies in the region, and provided training and financial support to Al Qaida. Those same allies had been invaded by Saddam previously. Or was that just bad intel as well?

        And Andy is also incorrect. Absense of evidence is not proof of the absence of evidence. Andy’s semantics are flawed. I can say that Andy used to have a Ferrari, but I have no evidence or proof that he did in fact own one. Now Andy must provide proof that he never owned one. But he can’t, all he can do is point to the reality that there is no proof he ever owned a Ferrari, and does not now own a Ferrari. But my claim could still be correct. And so, if Saddam successfully transferred his WMDs or destroyed them so that our forces could not find them (it’s a big world, AC), that is not the same thing as proving he never had them.

        All of this is irrelevent anyway. Having suffered a deadly attack that could not be attributed directly to an enemy state, the Bush administration did the responsible thing and attacked those states that aided and abetted the attackers. To not respond at all would have sent the signal that the U.S. was a sitting duck for any attackers that could successfully hide behind the shield of being an NGO. And the first responsibility of the POTUS is to protect and defend the Republic.

  6. Phillip Slepian

    Oh, and some of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles are way older than the Chemical weapons in Iraq. Do they no longer count as WMDs because of their age, even if they are still lethal? I bet ISIS wants them even if they are a bit old.

  7. I don’t know what George Bush personally believed. The fact is at the time almost everyone who looked at the evidence objectively believed there were no wmd’s, and that Hussein represented no real threat, had nothing to do with al qaida etc etc. Even in the years since, the Bush crowd has backed away from that claim with reasons like ” We went in to spread Democracy” or ” We used the best evidence we had about WMD’s and were wrong. The Bush administration did not act responsibly, they let Bin Laden get away and started a war with a Third Country ( Iraq) that was a disaster,

  8. Nuclear and Chemical weapons are 2 very different things

  9. Phillip Slepian

    Third time AC: Yes, if one looked at the “evidence” post invasion, one would not have seen much evidence of WMDs. As for AQ, it was well documented that prior to 9-11, Saddam hosted AQ training camps. And to say that he posed no threat ignores his own history of beligerancy. Let’s assume our intel was flawed. How was Bush to know that. I ask you, would it have been responsible of any POTUS to ignore what was thought to be reliable security intel and place our allies at risk?

    Yes, in his second term, Bush walked back his first term’s tough response to Islamic jihadists and the nations that sponsored it. I am guessing yo9u approved of this new approach, but I never did. No, Muslim mothers do not want what American mothers want for their children, unless American mothers desire their children to strap on bomb vests and blow up school children. He, like Obama after him, are wrong to underestimate the danger of a resurgent Islamic revolution. And I do feel that trying to remake the Arab world into Western-style democracies is folly. But that does not mean we cannot defend our nation by projecting power and the will to use it. That’s what our M.E. wars were really about, IMO.

    As for letting OBL “get away”, I am not sure I agree with the premise. Bush’s directives to track down OBL were not realized until after he left office, but it was Bill Clinton who could have killed him and didn’t, and that was prior to 9-11. The Iraq war was only a disaster because of the nation-building component. If we had defeated Saddam and withdrew to a substantial base in Basra, and left the Iraqis to rebuild with their own oil resources, we would still have deterrence in the region. By turning the war into some sort of Peace Corps project, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Obama’s refusal to maintain any troops in Iraq just hastened the fall of Iraq to ISIS.

    As for my example, both nuclear weapons and Bio-chem weapons are considered WMDs by all the relevent NGOs and world leaders, as well as the Geneva Convention. My point was that WMDs, whether new or old, are still WMDs. Some do expire after a certain period of time, but not all of them. I just wonder what folks like you will come up with as an excuse when mass casualties are caused by ISIS using these old wepons that you don’t count as WMDs.

    • The evidence pre invasion was pretty shaky. The Bush Crowd wanted to invade Iraq long before 9/11. Bush should have “moved heaven and earth” to get Bin Laden. Instead he made a half effort. The whole issue about Bill Clinton letting him get away is very shaky. I am not saying your totally wrong, but Clinton did try. When he left office he also warned the Bush ppl about Bin Laden but they were too focused on Iraq. Are you familiar with the phrase ” Bin Laden poised to strike US on Airlines” How about Richard Clarke’s Testimony, statements? Scott Ritter the director of the weapons program in Iraq said prior to the war Iraq couldn’t possibly have WMD’s. I could go on and on.

  10. What was the alternative to Obama withdrawing troops? Al Maliki didn’t want them. Supposed he left 10,000 behind to fight Isis, I don’t think that would have gone to well for them. I am all for a strong America, but just as importantly a smart one. Since WW2, our track record has not been so good when it comes to military conflicts

    • Phillip Slepian

      The evidence Bush had to work with, largely from British intel, was fairly conclusive. But even without that, Hussein had repeatedly violated the terms of his surrender from the first Gulf war. That alone warranted military action. And your fixation on OBL is misplaced. This is not a war between two men, OBL and Bush. It is a war of civilizations, and, as we have seen repeatedly, taking out one Jihadi leader only speeds up the promotion of his chain of command. It is the ideology of Islamic Jihad that must be decisively defeated and delegitimized much as Japanese Imperialism and Nazism were following WWII. Yes, there were intelligence failures under successive administrations, but OBL did not fly any of the 9-11 planes. It took a large, well-funded organization to plan and execute 9-11. That is why this is a war, and not a law enforcement operation (“overseas contingency operations” is, I believe, the Obama administration phrase). I know you could go on, but possessing WMDs was not the only reason for our military action in Iraq, which did not use WMDs when it invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia. And we also now know that Saddam was still working on acquiring nuclear weapons technology prior to the second Gulf War.

      The alternative to troop withdrawal? Well, gee, how about the very successful models we have in Cuba, Japan, Europe and South Korea. Do you honestly think Cuba (in league with the USSR) would never have threatened U.S. interests if we had not built Gitmo? Do you think South Korea would exist today if we had drawn all of our troops out of that region? The model is there, and it works. Remote bases project power. A base in Basra, and a fleet in the Gulf would have established a serious deterrent to ISIS, Iran and any other state or NGO that felt it could attack U.S. interests and allies at will with impunity, as they are now, for the most part, doing. I agree the nation building efforts were a waste of money and time. But the base and the fleet would deliver the message to all in the region: “We took out Saddam, and we will take out anyone who threatens our interests or allies in the region. Rebuild your state with your own resources, and choose whatever leaders you wish, but any efforts to attack your neighbors will be swiftly and decisively stopped by American firepower,” What Al Maliki wanted is irrelevent. He has no standing in the government of the United States as far as I am aware. I am sure Castro wasn’t happy about Gitmo. So what? North Korea would love to see U.S. troops depart South Korea. So what? Our track record has been poor only because Americans have forgotten what warfare is, and what the term “unconditional surrender” means. War is where you kill as many of the enemy as you can, not only its soldiers, and destroy its infrastructure, until the leaders of that enemy have no choice but to offer to surrender unconditionally. Then, the victor sets all of the terms of the peace, without worrying about the feelings of the defeated nation. In other words, it is absolutely better to be feared than loved (if the last six years of Obama’s leadership has demonstrated anything at all, that is it). Like it or not, war is the natural state of humankind, Those who wish to pretend otherwise are known historically as conquered. I do not want to see America fall because our leaders refused to believe war, as I have defined it, exists in the 21st Century.

      • I’m pretty sure by the time we invaded, the British told us the intelligence was inconclusive. Regardless, there were plenty of other sources to look at. The reason for the Invasion was because of WMD’s not violations of the first gulf treaty. I agree terror is bigger than OBL, but he was a big part of it. The Bush administration did not take him seriously, and did not make a serious attempt to bring him to justice. I agree that this is a war of civilizations, although I would probably use the word Conflict not war. It’s much different than the Nazi/Japanese situation in that it’s not clear who are enemies are. I disagree, we do not know that Sadaam was working on acquiring nuclear weapons prior to the 2nd gulf war. The evidence on that is very inconclusive

      • Phillip Slepian

        For a bit of clarity on the causus belli for the second Gulf War, I suggest starting here: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/1580/juan-cole-distortions

        I don’t think that the Bush administration failed to “take OBL seriously”, AC. Upon what do you base that on? Besides, the efforts that ended up eliminating OBL under Obama were begun under Bush (yes, this one is indeed “Bush’s fault”). Conflict? War? Whatever. I think it is clear that the Islamic Jihadists have declared war on the U.S. (exhibit #1 would be the two large holes in the ground in lower Manhattan). Just because we have a POTUS who refuses to acknowledge that we are at war (“overseas contingency operations”), or with whom we are at war with (Islamic Jihadists, not “terror”, which is just a tactic), does not mean we are not actually at war.

        As for Iraqi nuclear ambitions post-1991, please see here: http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iraq/act1298.html. Inconclusive, perhaps, but with Saddam’s history, that is a chance I would not want our President to take.

      • The Germans were totally defeated and Yes by and large they wanted us there to protect against The Soviet Union. Similar situation with The Japanese. Not sure the history with Cuba, but it hasn’t seemed like to big of a deal to them. I agree leaving behind 15- 20,000 troops projects power and serves as a deterrent. However, when those troops are there without the approval of the government and in a hostile territory they become a target They get attacked, we send in more troops war again. Do you think Iran is a threat? I bet they were happy to see Saddam go.

      • Phillip Slepian

        AC, my point is, that whether the Germans, Japanese, Cubans or Iraqis wanted a U.S. base on their soil is irrelevent. They fought a war against the U.S., they lost, and we won. As victors, we get to decide whether to leave troops there, and for how long, and how many. Yes, if the defeated nation attacks our forward base there, we would of course respond with a larger force. But what is the alternative? Allow unchecked aggression against our allies and interests because we didn’t have the gumption to properly manage our victory and maintain the peace? And where does that end? With war on our own soil. And that is why we have a military, and why we must project power aroun d the world. Failure to do that invites attacks on our own soil.

        Of course Iran is a threat. How do I know that? I listen to what Iranian leaders say, quite plainly, to their own people. I understand what Iran’s goals are, and I understand they are deadly serious about achieving them. To ignore Iranian threats now will end in a reply of the results of our having ignored what Hitler was saying in the 1930s. Only this time, the enemy that we thought was just making political points will be armed with nuclear-tipped ICBMs. Yes, Iran was happy to see Saddam go, but thaty fails as a reason to leave Saddam in power. We should have taken out Iran’s nuclear facilities several years ago, or at least let Israel do so. We will come to regret not having done either.

      • The situation in Iraq was very different though. We didn’t fight a clear war and win. Of Course the idea sounds good in theory to have a small amount of troops/base but Iraq is very diff. We didn’t fight a clear war and win. It would have resulted in a long term occupation and fighting. The alternative is not to allow unchecked aggression against our allies or our interests. You take each situation as it comes. I brought up Iran because taking out Sadaam was a great thing for them/ strengthened them. That alone is not a reason for us not to go in, but like I said the reasons to go in were weak to say the least.

      • Phillip Slepian

        The early part of the war was a more conventional conflict in which U.S. forces defeated Iraqi forces decisively. It is precisely at that point that I would have established the Basra base, posted a fleet in the Gulf, and withdrew from the rest of Iraq. The Iraqis could, if they wished, elect new leaders and rebuild their own nation with their own resources. Instead, we then undertook the nation-building exersize, and that was where we threw away our military victory in a failed attempt to win over the Muslim world and turn it democratic. With the benefit of hindesite, it is obvious that nation-building in Iraq was folly. We should have simply warned the Iraqis that they could do anything they wished, but that our forces stationed in the area would act to protect American interests and allies from future Iraqi aggression. No long term occupation was necessary, aside from the Basra base. And while you may feel that the reasons for the war were weak, my plan would have left the U.S. with significant assets in the region that I think would now be deterring Iranian nuclear ambitions and the ISIS expansion, simply by virtue of their presence.

      • I’m pretty sure John Kerry proposed something very similar

      • Phillip Slepian

        AC – I am calling “BS” on that last remark about Kerry. I will need some documentation on that.

      • Phillip, I am not positive. I am pretty sure Kerry proposed taking out Sadaam and his people at the top. Leaving the Iraqi military/police and everything else in order then maintaining a small amount of troops. Like I said I could very well be wrong.

      • The models of S Korea, Japan, Europe are not relevant. The ppl there had been defeated/ wanted us there to protect them. Not the same at all in Iraq. Also, what would we have left behind, 10-15,000 troops? They would have been sitting ducks for Isis. I’m pretty sure the status of forces agreement that Bush signed called for us to negotiate with Al Maliqi. We couldn’t have done it without his agreement. I agree people have forgotten what war means and have tried to side step the issue. No War was declared in Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan. Not sure what you mean about Obama’s foreign policy and better to be feared than loved.

  11. Phillip Slepian

    I am not aware that the Germans, Cubans or Japanese “wanted us there to protect them”. Even the South Koreans went through a period in which they tried to get the U.S. to leave, as some did until recently in Japan. In hindsight, both nations would have regretted any accomplishments in those efforts given today’s provocations from North Korea and China. Part of the spoils of war is the ability to dictate the peace, regardless of what the defeated people may want. And we certainly had defeated Iraq decisively in the second Gulf War. I would think we’d need more than 15,000 (although I bet 15,000 of our boys could put a swift end to ISIS if they were allowed to really take their gloves off), like the 28,000 we have in North Korea, plus a nearby fleet. This sort of deterrent has worked against North Korea for over half a century. It is less about the size of the forces stationed there than it is about the ability for the U.S. to project power and respond quickly to attacks on U.S. interests and allies. It is also very symbolic of our committment to the region. Why do you assume it would not work against ISIS or Iran today?

    I do not debate that both Bush and Obama have destroyed any advantage we once had in Iraq due to our military victory. Both Bush (with respect to the Muslim World) and Obama clearly behaved after the Middle East wars in ways that they hoped would cause the Muslims to like America (e.g., nation building, and the apology tour that started in Cairo), rather than fear it. This was a potentially fatal error. In Arab culture, friendly gestures, such as allowing the defeated nation to dictate the status of forces, or assistance in rebuilding the defeated nation, is viewed exclusively as weakness, and an invitation for more beligerance, at least in the long run.

  12. I don’t know If I agree with your assessment about Bush and Obama destroying advantage in Iraq. Occupying a Country long term is a burden not advantage. I think it was a mistake for Obama to go on his tour in 2009. I also think calling it an apology tour is a really big stretch. Romney and Fox news tried a bunch of times and received pretty solid pushback from Factcheck and other relatively neutral sources.

  13. Phillip Slepian

    I never proposed a long-term occupation, merely a permanent base in Basra and a fleet stationed in the Gulf. These are a managable burden, and historically very effective. Why is it a stretch? Have you read the transcript of the Cairo speech? Saying that the U.S. in the past had acted badly and would change going forward sure sounds like an apology to me. In any case, his words clearly showed that the U.S. was now going to support the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate organization with legitimate aspirations. Previously, we had considered them what they are: An Islamic Supremecist organization determined to replace the Constitution with Islamic law. Again – if looks like a duck, walks like a duck…

  14. I have not read the transcript. I have read parts, didn’t see an apology. Where in the speech did he say he was going to support the muslim brotherhood?

  15. The point I am trying to make is that In Iraq ( like Afghanistan) we can’t just establish a base and hope for the best from the people. That base will be attacked, and the country would descent into Chaos

    • Phillip Slepian

      Has Gitmo ever been attacked? How about our base in South Korea (which is just south of the DMZ with North Korea)? Has China attacked our base in Osaka? Has Russia or the USSR before it ever attacked our bases in Germany? And so what if they are attacked? Would you prefer more 9-11 style attacks instead? Also, I would hope our military would know how to defend itself. Chaos? Perhaps. That’s not our problem. Our problem is when there is a threat to our interests or allies in the region. If they want to slaughter each other, it’s sad, but at least they will be too busy killing each other to attack Americans.

  16. Our policies to try and promote what we thought was stability in the Middle East had actually allowed, underneath, a very malignant, meaning cancerous, form of extremism to grow up underneath because people didn’t have outlets for their political views.” That sounds like much more of an apology to me. can u guess who said it and where?

  17. Phillip Slepian

    I’ll assume it was Bush, who gets no pass from me on his coddling of Islamic pan-nationalism. We didn’t allow “outlets” for the political views of the Imperial Japanese or Nazis after we won WWII. Likewise, we did not allow “outlets” for Islamic expansionism and colonialism post-WWI, and for good reason. It is precisely because we have allowed “outlets” for the expression of Islamic Revolution to eminate from Iran and failed states throughout the region that we are seeing the rise of competing Islamic Supremicist movements, among both state actors and NGOs. I see no problems with those who have won wars outlawing the “outlets” for the enemy ideologies. That Obama promised to “change course” is as clear an apology as one could ask for. It is an admission that the U.S. was wrong (in Obama’s opinion) and would act to correct itself. By that, we now know, he meant unrestricted and unconditional support of the Muslim Brotherhood at every opportunity, both domestic and foreign. Obama’s foreign policy history and domestic appointments underscore just how serious he was about doing that.

    • Close. It was Condalezza Rice, speech she gave in Cairo

      • Phillip Slepian

        Let’s not forget that Condolezza was a favorite of the Arab oil lobby, who employed her before she joined the Bush administration, and there was once an oil freighter named the Condoleeza. Of course that name was changed when she was appointed NSA chief. Condi’s track record of bullying Israel in order to please the Arab oil exporters is spotless, and she was one of Bush’s most dissappointing appointees, IMHO. She is clearly in the Pat Buchanan branch of the G.O.P., and no supporter of Israel or even of a just foreign policy can support her. I would bet that she is responsible for the bulk of Bush’s turn to support Muslims, and for his inconsistancies when it came to supporting Israel, to whom he had previously been a reliable ally. If you’re playing “gotcha” with me, you need to tighten your game, AC; I may be registered as a Republican, but I am anything but a reflexive G.O.P. supporter, whether right or wrong. That doesn’t mean I am a Democrat, either, of course.

  18. I’m not playing “gotcha.” I am trying to put things in a little more context. How did Condi bully Israel?